On Sunday 20th March, 2016, &Co. invited Matt Roberts to deliver a Panel Discussion titled: ‘How do artists establish themselves?’, after he received Arts Council funding to provide advice to artists in regions where the commercial sector of the arts is less visible. Consequently, three panellists were invited to The Higgins Bedford, from three contrasting galleries to explore the artist – gallery relationship through a series of case studies.
Throughout the discussion, the visibility of the artist and their ambition to be ambitious, and the accessibility of the gallery and role of the gallery as a facilitator became key points. However, what was perhaps the most important point made by all of the galleries was that the artist – gallery relationship is a collaborative one.
All of the three galleries discussed the platforms that they provide for artist (and art writers) at various stages in their career. From NN Contemporary Arts Project Space that is dedicated to artistic experimentation along with their SeeNN Youth Arts Collective for young people aged 16-25, to the Eagle Gallery’s exhibitions that introduce emerging artists alongside more established artists, to Transition Gallery’s Blog Spot for art writers. The walls, doors and thresholds of the galleries are beckoning artists in… as we sometimes forget the gallery is just as dependent on the artist, as the artist is on the gallery.
The panellists also emphasised that the artist needs to be just as accessible and visible to the gallery as the gallery is to the artists. Unfortunately for us who are more of an introvert than an extrovert, we have to make a bit of a song and dance about ourselves… In the same way a gallery shouldn’t be passive, an artist and their practice cannot be shy. Having a strong and articulate presence on the internet through good quality documentation and intelligent texts, has a weight of importance, which may be easier for those artists who are digital natives. Furthermore, having momentum to your practice, always being ambitious, constantly striving to refine and develop ideas, and not being afraid to not play it safe, were all attributed to the gallerist’s case studies as key contributors to their success.
The artists discussed in each case study were as follows:
Emma Hill: Carolyn Thompson